Reading Resources for Secondary Classes

The following are resources collated for a "New to Teaching Reading Across the Curriculum Portfolio". Resources are intended to focus on adolescent reading and are specific to the Intermediate/ Senior panel, with a particular focus on the Applied classroom.

"The need to guide adolescents to advanced stages of literacy is not the result of any teaching or learning failure in the preschool or primary years: it is a necessary part of normal reading development.  Guidance is needed so that reading and writing develop along with adolescents’ ever increasing knowledge of oral language, thinking ability, and knowledge of the world." (Moore, Bean, Birdyshaw, and Rycik, 2000 as qtd. in Think Literacy, p.2)

“Read Aloud Texts” and Reading Strategies for Applied & Open Level Classes

“When reading material is difficult and ideas are complex, strategies give readers a way to interact with text. Too often secondary students surrender when meaning doesn’t magically arrive ... All readers, regardless of age or ability, need to know how to proceed when meaning breaks down. Strategy instruction affords them the opportunity to engage deeply with sophisticated content.” (Cris Tovani as qtd in ALERT, "How to Help Students Who Struggle with Reading").
A key component of effective literacy programs is the widespread use of strategies by school staff. It is important for staff to use common language in literacy strategy instruction. It is especially important for teachers of Applied and Open classes to help students understand the subject-specific codes and conventions that they will encounter in science, history, family studies, etc. In fact, revised curriculum documents explicitly mention the need to teach literacy skills:
"Many of the activities and tasks that students undertake in the social sciences and humanities curriculum involve the literacy skills relating to oral, written, and visual communication. For example, students use language to understand sources, to analyse and evaluate arguments and evidence, and to present findings in oral, visual, and written forms. In all social sciences and humanities courses, students are required to use appropriate and correct terminology and are encouraged to use language with care and precision in order to communicate effectively" (Ministry of Education, Social Sciences and Humanities, 2012, p45).
Each text on this list was chosen to act as a text for teachers to conduct a read aloud / think aloud with students in order to explicitly teach reading strategies.

How-to conduct a read aloud/ think aloud -  Essential components of a read-aloud were outlined by Fisher et al (2004):

1.      Books chosen are appropriate to students’ interests and matched to their developmental, emotional, and social levels.
2.      Selections are previewed and practiced by the teacher.
3.      A clear purpose for the read-aloud is established.
4.      Teachers model fluent oral reading when they read the text.
5.      Teachers are animated and used expression.
6.      Teachers stop periodically and thoughtfully questioned the students to focus them of the specifics of the text.
7.      Connections are made to independent reading and writing.

See also, "Ten Tips for Reading Aloud" in Think Literacy, English and resources for Think Aloud.

Think Literacy Reading Resources

Reading skills require explicit instruction, which is provided in Think Literacy, Cross-Curricular Approaches, Grades 7-12. Additional resources are found in the Subject-Specific Learning Materials. Reading is divided into 4 skill sets: Getting Ready to Read, Engaging in Reading, Reacting to Reading, and Reading Different Text Forms.

Arts - Grade 9 Visual Art (Open Level)
Pre-Reading: Previewing a Textbook; READ ALOUD TEXT: textbook 
Reading Different Text Forms: Reading Graphical Texts

Business - Grade 9 (Open Level)
Engaging in Reading: Reading Between the Lines (Inferences); READ ALOUD TEXT: Job postings
Reacting to Reading: Drawing Conclusions (I Read/I Think/Therefore)

Canada & World Studies - Civics (Open Level)
Getting Ready to Read: Anticipation Guide; READ ALOUD TEXT: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Reacting to Reading: Making Judgments (Both Sides Now)

Careers - Grade 10 (Open Level)
Getting Ready to Read: Skimming and Scanning Text, Extending Vocabulary (Creating a Word Wall)
Reacting to Reading: Responding to Text: Graffiti (Pathways: Post-Secondary Options) 

English - Grade 9
Getting Ready to Read: Finding Organizational Patterns - Poetry; READ ALOUD TEXTS: “The 
Shark” by E.J. Pratt, “Ballad of the Landlord” by Langston Hughes, “Nikki Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni, “Originally” by Carol Ann Duffy
Engaging in Reading: Reading Between the Lines / Inference; READ ALOUD TEXT: Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Reading/Viewing Different Text Forms: Reading Graphical Texts; READ ALOUD TEXT: Television and print commercials

French as a Second Language - Grade 9
Getting Ready to Read: Previewing a Text
Engaging in Reading: Using Context to Find Meaning

Health & Physical Education - Grade 9 (Open Level)
Engaging in Reading: Most/Least Important Idea(s) and Information
Reading Different Text Forms: Reading Informational Texts
READ ALOUD TEXT: textbook or news articles

Mathematics - Grade 9
Getting Ready to Read: Extending Vocabulary – The Frayer Model
Engaging in Reading: Visualizing 

Science - Grade 10
Reading Different Text Forms: Informational Texts; Graphical Texts; Following Instructions
READ ALOUD TEXT: textbook or news articles

Social Sciences & Humanities - Food & Nutrition, Grade 9 (Open)
Engaging In Reading:  Sorting Ideas Using a Concept Map (Carbohydrates) 
Reading Different Text Forms: Reading Informational TextsREAD ALOUD TEXT: Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating

Social Sciences & Humanities - Individual and Family Living
Engaging in Reading: Visualizing; READ ALOUD TEXT included

Technology - Integrated Technologies, Grade 9 (Open)
Getting Ready to Read: Anticipation Guide READ ALOUD TEXT links provided

Technology - Hospitality and Tourism, Grade 19 (Open)
Reading Different Text Forms:  Following Instructions (Recipe)
Engaging in Reading: Making Notes

Another important resource for the teaching of literacy is the Upper Grand DSB's (2003) Blueprint for Literacy: A Handbook of Effective Teaching Practices, copies of which are available in all schools, the Terry James Resource Centre and online in the Staff Portal.

Create an inclusive, equitable, and safe learning environment during reading instruction in your content area

“The more we frontload students’ knowledge of a text and help them become actively involved in constructing meaning prior to reading, the more engaged they are likely to be as they read the text.” (Beers, 2002)
"Literacy floats on a sea of talk..." James Britton (1970) in Think Literacy, p.4.

Value student voice and choice: use protocols or "talk structures" to ensure that all student voices are valued in the classroom. It is challenging for students to admit that they struggle with literacy; ensure an environment which allows for open, honest dialogue from all students.
"A protocol consists of agreed upon guidelines for a conversation. This type of structure permits very focused conversations to occur. We use protocols for looking at student and adult work, giving and receiving feedback, solving problems or dilemmas, observing classrooms or peers, to push thinking on a given issue and to structure a discussion around a text." (National School Reform Faculty)

Know the students: complete diagnostics to determine student strengths and student needs. Data collected through reliable diagnostic tools should inform a teacher's instruction. Clearly communicate expectations to students through learning goals, success criteria, and descriptive feedback.
"We will improve learning when we collectively, intelligently and creatively focus our efforts on improving the teaching and learning process. The more we understand about the learner, the more we understand about meaningful and responsible assessment and evaluation, the more we understand about what is to be learned, the more we understand about instructional processes, and the more we understand about collectively acting on what we understand, then the more likely we are to make a difference." (Bennett and Rolheiser, 2001 as qtd. in Think Literacy)

Scaffold reading instruction: I do/we do/you do. Students need to be taught to be strategic, thoughtful, and effective readers who actively choose which reading strategies to apply to which contexts. Start with direct teaching, thinking aloud, and modelling before moving to guided and/or shared reading for those needing additional support. Discussion and small-group support may be necessary before asking students to independently complete reading tasks (especially as reading becomes more complex in secondary classes).

According to Think Literacy, "effective readers use strategies to understand what they read before, during, and after reading.

Before reading, they:
• use prior knowledge to think about the topic.
• make predictions about the probable meaning of the text.
• preview the text by skimming and scanning to get a sense of the overall meaning.

During reading, they:
• monitor understanding by questioning, thinking about, and reflecting on the ideas and information
in the text.

After reading, they:
• reflect upon the ideas and information in the text.
• relate what they have read to their own experiences and knowledge.
• clarify their understanding of the text.
• extend their understanding in critical and creative ways." (Think Literacy, p.7)

Useful Professional Resources in Literacy for the New Teacher

The most useful resource for all Ontario Educators is the newly redesigned EduGAINS website, which houses all Ministry of Education K-12 resources to support policies and programs, including curriculum, policy documents, assessmentnumeracy and literacy resources.

Literacy GAINS resource
The recently released Adolescent Literacy Guide is a resource which outlines a new vision of literacy for adolescents focused on three core skills: the abilities to read, write, and think.

"All students are equipped with the literacy skills to be critical and creative thinkers, effective meaning makers and communicators, collaborative co-learners, and problem solvers in order to achieve personal, career and societal goals." (ALG, 2012)

"All students, individually and with others, develop abilities to:

THINK: access, manage, create and evaluate information in order to think imaginatively and critically to solve problems and make decisions, including those related to issues of fairness, equity and social justice;

EXPRESS: use language and images in rich an varied forms to read, write, listen, speak, view, represent, discuss and think critically about ideas;

REFLECT: apply metacognitive knowledge and skills, develop self-advocacy, a sense of self-efficacy and interest in life-long learning."

Additionally, Literacy GAINS have created classroom-ready ALERTs (Adolescent Literacy: Engaging Research and Teaching). These practical documents use the foundations laid out in the ALG and apply them to grade 7-12 contexts. These short documents focus on demonstrating effective practices in the classroom with a focus on common challenges in literacy. For example, the reading specific titles, "HOW TO HELP STUDENTS WHO STRUGGLE WITH READING"  and "BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE" ALERTs share classroom ready strategies for teachers alongside the research to support best practice.

Another important resource is the Think Literacy documents, also available on EduGAINS.

Once educators have done diagnostic work to determine student strengths and needs, "fix-up" strategies are needed. Think Literacy was designed to provide cross-curricular strategies for reading, writing and communicating.

"Students who are explicitly taught a repertoire of reading, writing and oral communication skills, and become adept at using them, are then able to apply those skills in other contexts. They become effective communicators in an idea-fuelled and information-driven world." (Think Literacy, p.1)

Want more research on effective practice? The Capacity Building Series, also available on EduGAINS, delivers short research papers which include practical classroom applications. Topics include literacy based strategies -- Reading Fluency, Vocabulary Development -- but also expand to numeracy, inquiry-based learning and other pedagogical approaches.
"Teachers don't have to be reading specialists to teach comprehension strategies. They simy have to be aware of theri own processes as readers. They can notice their own thinking as they read, determine what they do to make mraning and pass these techniques to their students." (Tovani in Think Literacy)

Examples of Useful Technology that Supports Reading and Literacy Skills in ALL Classes and Suggestions for Use

Common Tech Tools for use as Assistive Technology in UGDSB:

Education for All (2005) defines assistive technology as "any technology that allows one to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of an individual with special learning needs (Edyburn, 2000). Its applications and adaptations can help open doors to previously inaccessible learning opportunities for many children with special needs (Judge, 2001)" (p.127). In Ontario, many of these tech tools are provided, at no charge, to students.

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Read & Write for Google: This web-based Google application (to be used in Chrome) will read aloud text in multiple formats - Google Docs, the Web, PDFs, ePub, and Kes (Kurzwell 3000 Files). The application sits right over top most pages launched in Chrome and is activated either through a drop down tab & menu or through the extension link in your toolbar. The voice can be customized (multiple choices and accents are provided as it is a global market); students are able to create their own, printable dictionaries (standard and pictorial) and vocabulary lists; a prediction tool helps with spelling; and students can directly search terms that may not be clearly defined in the reading. 

kurzweil educational systems
Kurzweil is software which promotes independent reading and writing in students with LD by converting scanned text and images into pages that can be read aloud by the computer (students can choose from a number of voices). Files are editable, so that students can also write tests and compose their own writing on computers. 

Word Q and Speak Q: these programs suggest words and read aloud words for students while sitting overtop their regular software programs. Especially useful for those with challenges with spelling and auditory processing.


Dragon Naturally Speaking: speech recognition software which allows students to dictate their notes, tests, essays, etc. Students can train the software to recognize their voice and essentially allows students to run their computer programs using their voice, which is significant for those with processing delays or students having difficulty writing.

Promethean & Activ Inspire: Promethean multi-touch, interactive whiteboards and the sophisticated software allows students to actively engage and collaborative in a digital context. Students can interact with the software through their tablets or interactive devices, allowing teachers to collect data and provide immediate feedback to students.

Smart LogoSmart Ideas: SmartBoards and the software, Smart Ideas, allows students to actively engage with a touchable and computer-like, interactive whiteboard screen. The package is engaging, collaborative in nature, and appeals to multiple modalities in students. Smart Clickers also allow teachers to collect data from students and provide immediate feedback.

Need help with these programs? Contact your Resource teachers and those with Special Education Specialists. Much of the software is available through the OSAPAC (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee). 

Why use these technological supports?

Today's technology allows students with LD to participate like never before; many tools are free to all students in Ontario (through OSAPAC) and require little training. Most importantly,
"Two major reviews of the research in assistive technology (MacArthur, Ferretti, Okolo, & Cavalier, 2001; Okolo, Cavalier, Ferretti, & MacArthur, 2000) confirmed the utility of computer-assisted instruction and synthesized speech feedback to improve students’ phonemic awareness and decoding skills, as well as the benefits of electronic texts to enhance comprehension by compensating for reading difficulties. Assistive technologies include text-to-speech software, word-processing programs, voice-recognition software, and software for organizing ideas.While these technologies are relatively new, they hold the promise of bridging the gap between a student’s needs and abilities." (Urquhart Engstrom, 2005, p.31). 
Integrating explicit instruction of reading strategies and assistive technology can improve content area comprehension. Students can improve accuracy, speed, and comprehension of text which will therefore allow them to better demonstrate their understanding of course material. More importantly, students with LD are cognitively capable of grade-appropriate work and need academic challenge; limiting critical thinking, using low level vocabulary for academic vocabulary, or substituting easier texts for challenging texts should not be accommodations. Rather, teaching students how to access these texts using assistive technology will enable success. To best accommodate our students with learning disabilities, we need to ensure careful planning and classroom instruction which will accommodate for any deficits a student may be experiencing. 

Books & Articles about Literacy that Every Secondary Classroom Teacher Should Read:

Allen, J. (2004). Tools for Teaching Content Literacy. Stenhouse Publishers.

Beers, K., Probst, R., & Rief, L., Eds. (2007). Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Beers, Kylene. (2002). When Kids Can't Read—What Teachers Can Do. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Bennett, B. & Rolheiser, C. (2001). Beyond Monet: The Artful Science of Instructional Integration. Bookation.

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2008). Content Strategies at Work. Columbus: Pearson/Merrill Prentice-Hall.

Fisher, D., Flood, J. Lapp, D. & Frey, N.  (2004)."Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices?"  International Reading Association. pp. 8-17.

Harvey, S. & Daniels, H. (2009). Comprehension & Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Marzano, R. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Tovani, C. (2000). I Read it, But I Don’t Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers. Portland: Stenhouse.


Literacy GAINS (2012). Adolescent Literacy Guide. Curriculum and Assessment Branch, Ministry of Education.

National School Reform Faculty. "NSRF Materials." Harmony Education Centre. Accessed March 1, 2014.

Ontario Ministry of Education (2010). Caring and Safe Schools in Ontario:  Supporting Students with Special education needs through progressive discipline,  Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Ontario Ministry of Education (2006). A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction, Grades 4 to 6, Volume 2: Assessment. Toronto: Queen's Printer.

Ontario Ministry of Education (2006). A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction, Grades 4 to 6, Volume 3: Planning and Classroom Management. Toronto: Queen's Printer.

Ontario Ministry of Education (2005). Education for All: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students With Special Education Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6  "Computer-based Assistive Technology” Ch. 10, pp. 127-138. 

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2003). Think Literacy Success: The Report of the Expert Panel on Students at Risk in Ontario. Queen's Printer.

Ontario Ministry of Education (2003). Think LiteracyCross-Curricular Approaches, Grades 7-12. Queen's Printer.

Upper Grand DSB. (2003). Blueprint for Literacy: A Handbook of Effective Teaching Practices.

Urquhart Engstrom, Ellen (2005). "Reading, writing, and assistive technology: An integrated developmental curriculum for college students." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 49:1. pp. 30-39.

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